In the livestock industry, farmers have developed a habit of ignoring their own safety around their animals. Livestock safety applies to both the animal and the handler. Such precautions involve much more than being “careful” around the animal; it also means being aware of the proper use of equipment and facilities. The types of injuries that farmers can sustain from animals can include cuts, bruises or burns. Animals of various sizes, such as sheep, cattle, swine and horses, can cause these types of problems.
Large animal veterinarian Kim Ehlers of Mountain Grove, Mo., said knowing basic livestock safety is extremely important among livestock farmers and other large animal veterinarians.
“There have been times where I had no assistance and was being kicked or bitten by a large animal that didn’t like how I was treating it,” Ehlers said. “I have been fortunate enough to walk away with fewer injuries because I knew what steps to take to avoid the fatal injuries.”
Knowing basic tips of livestock safety and treating livestock with respect is something that can go a long way. According to livestock safety experts, as long as you treat your animal with respect and are careful around them, your chances of safety around them are higher. Never overlook the warning signs when they are exhibited and always have a good amount of patience while handling your animal.
I have first-hand knowledge of the importance of livestock safety. I am from a farm that raised mostly livestock, so I was used to being told constantly about being cautious around the cattle or the sheep. Whenever it came to bulls or rams, my family insisted on being extra cautious.
In fact, 5 percent of deaths that occur in production of animals or crops are caused by cattle. Those most likely to be killed by animals were aged 60 and up, male and the main cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head or chest. Circumstances around these deaths included working with cattle in enclosed areas, herding, feeding and loading cattle.
One third of these deaths were caused by animals that had shown previous signs of aggressive behavior.
I have experienced many incidents where I was chased by a cow or sheep that was upset, but I thought nothing of it because I was not injured. Inevitably, I have been kicked a few times by both sheep and cattle in our herds because I was not paying attention to what I was doing at the time.
From my observation, the issue of safety when handling livestock is not a top concern for most farmers. However, safety is one of the most important issues we face in agriculture today and we all need to be aware of and follow recommended safety precautions when working with livestock. It could be a matter of life or death.